Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet
And if you lose yourself, we have no hope. So, we count on you.
Enjoy the article with this playlist I made to quite out the chatters in my mind during turbulent times.
This article is inspired by Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet, the latest book by Thich Nhat Hanh.
Fixing Minds & Fixing Worlds
I started reading Thich Nhat Hanh's writings in college. His words were simple and powerful, they're like a little oasis among an infinite desert of dismay.
After researching Solarpunk lifestyles, de-growth, land regeneration, collectivism, I launched the Agartha project, a global network for Solarpunk enthusiasts, hoping what we do could help facilitate a cultural paradigm shift, bringing intimacy and reverence back to our relationships with nature, close communities and ourselves.
But I was feeling more unstable, anxious, and even angry at times. The eager to make great impact made me feel jaded, consumed, and deeply insecure. I became a person I disliked, and I had no idea how to manage my thoughts, ambitions, and how to continue.
There's the old saying 'if you can't help yourself, you can't help anyone else.' Only after I had some time off to really look deeply into myself do I realize that I wasn’t ready. I was ready to learn what’s needed and put into physical and intellectual work, but I wasn’t ready mentally. I haven’t dealt with my fears, desires, insecurities, therefore my dreams were unrealistic and overly ambitious.
I realized then, mindfulness is one of the best ways for us to become grounded in our believes and realities, to be decisive, calm and optimistic during the time of chaos.
And if you lose yourself, we have no hope. So, we count on you.
The Art of Interbeing ---- Mindful Reverence for Nature
If we're going to help our society and planet, we will need to cultivate reverence for life, deep simplicity, real love, and brave dialogue, and we will need to sustain ourselves with the right kind of fuel.
An essential part of the 'right kind of fuel' is mindfulness. When we are mindful, we can truly be grateful for the simple wonders of life, things we take for granted too often for too long. It doesn’t take much to curate, and it’s completely free. You don’t even need to meditate everyday. Just curating this mental awareness to be present —— it goes a long way.
We live in a beautifully crafted universe by a mysterious creator. The gravitational pull between earth, moon and sun falls into place so perfectly, that earth is able to have just the right kind of temperature and energy to curate just the right kind of atmosphere, and gave birth to a vibrant biodiversity of lives.
From the desert tundras to tropical rainforests, tribes and civilizations emerged, bringing out elaborate myths, arts and inventions. We are children of our ancestors and an outcome of our universe. Everything we do, our consciousness, are connected with our environment.
A beautiful video made by our friend Xander Steenbrugge
The idea of interbeing means the interconnectedness and interdependence of all things ---- nothing exists in isolation; everything is linked and influenced by everything else.
Contemplation upon interbeing with the practice of mindfulness means cultivating awareness of our interconnectedness with nature and recognizing the impact of our actions on the environment.
If recognizing interbeing is the place we travel to, mindfulness is the path that lead us there.
When you wake up and you see that the Earth is not just the environment. The Earth is us, you touch the nature of interbeing. And at that moment you can have real communication with the Earth. That is the highest form of prayer. In that kind of relationship, you will have the love, strength, and awakening you need to change your life.
The truth is that many of us have become alienated from the Earth. We forget that we are alive, here, on a beautiful planet and that our body is a wonder given to us by the Earth and the whole cosmos.
Solving climate and social crisis aren't just about inventing the right technology, but also really changing our perspectives to recognize our interbeing with our environment. Us, our community and earth are all actors of this divine cosmos dance.
We are always interacting with each others, everything we do has effects on our environment, and if we see our environment as part of us, and if we can deeply recognize the thriving of everyone else as thriving of ourselves, we can create a paradigm shift very effortlessly.
Cultivating a strong training in meditation and mindfulness is not to escape what’s going on, but a way for us to truly still the mind and look deeply, in order to see ourselves and the world clearly. From this foundation of clarity and insight we’ll be able to take the most appropriate, effective action to transform the situation and create a regenerative culture in which all life is respected.
Engaged Buddhism at Plum Village
Engaged Buddhism emphasizes the integration of Buddhist teachings and practices with social and political activism. Engaged Buddhists believe in the interconnection of all beings and emphasize compassion, mindfulness, and non-violence as guiding principles in their efforts to address the root causes of social injustices.
By applying Buddhist principles to the challenges of the modern world, engaged Buddhists seek to cultivate a more just and compassionate society, embodying the notion that spiritual practice and social action are inseparable components of a meaningful and enlightened life.
What excited me about the eco village movement is that people are actively approaching a self-sustaining lifestyle at harmony with nature, there are many beautiful examples all over the world. Plum Village is a place where engaged buddhism is practiced in the form of an eco village.
Plum Village was founded by Thich Nhat Hanh in 1982. The center encompasses several hamlets, each offering a serene and contemplative environment for meditation, prayer, and mindful living.
Visitors from around the world come to Plum Village to participate in retreats, workshops, and programs that emphasize mindfulness, compassion, and the art of mindful walking and breathing.
Within 20 years, Plum Village grew from a small homestead of less than 20 people to one of the biggest Buddhist villages across the world, with more than 200 monastics living on site, offering retreats and workshops to over 10,000 visitors every year.
Life in Plum Village is close to an Utopia from many visitors’ comments. Visitors practice daily sitting meditation and walking meditations among nature, harvest fresh organic vegetables from the Happy Farm, exchange stories and join Dharma talk workshops.
The village offers a peaceful environment for people to pause, contemplate and rewind, while also a place for people to collectively dream, learn, grow, and regain optimism to create a better future.
Plum Village also has many sibling villages all over the world, such as Deer Park in Escondido San Diego, Magnolia Grove in Batesville, Mississipi, and Blue Cliff in Pine Bush, New York. Check out their retreat calendar on the official website HERE!
Even thou I’ve never been to any of the villages mentioned above, I do plan to visit and join a retreat soon. It makes me so happy that these villages exist, and it is possible for us to really submerge in an environment vastly different from the bustling cities.
Hope you have enjoyed or will soon enjoy the magic of mindfulness in your day-to-day life. ✨
All quotes from this article come from the book Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet.
I also strongly recommend the Plum Village podcast series —— The Way Out is In Podcast Series (I swear, it’s like butter to my ear👂)
Hope you’ve enjoyed this article! See u next time ;)